Emergency workers have found 12 bodies and are searching for more than 110 people after a Russian cruise ship sank in the Volga River, according to Emergency Ministry officials.
The Bulgaria may have been carrying 207 people when the ship went down yesterday, the Tatarstan division of Russia’s Emergency Ministry said today in a statement on its website. Seventy-nine people were saved, according to the ministry.
The vessel was returning to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, from the town of Bolgar when it sank about 740 kilometers (460 miles) east from Moscow.
“It sank in two or three minutes,” Liliya Khaziyeva, a spokeswoman for the Rescue Service from the neighboring Udmurtia region, said by phone from a rescue boat near the accident site. “We found dead people wearing safety jackets, people who were simply unable to leave the ship.”
Workers are combing river banks and islands, she said. The river is as wide as 30 kilometers in the area, she said.
“About 30 children were being entertained in one room, according to passenger reports,” Khaziyeva said. “Divers are looking for this room now.”
The numbers of travelers and missing are changing as the list of registered and unregistered passengers is updated, Andrei Rodygin, a spokesman for the Tatarstan division of the Emergency Ministry, said by phone.
The Bulgaria, built in the former Czechoslovakia, sank three kilometers from shore yesterday at 1:58 p.m. local time, according to a statement on the Emergency Ministry’s website. The weather was stormy, said Rodygin.
The vessel, built in 1955, passed an inspection earlier this year, the Rossiya 24 state television channel reported.
A criminal investigation has been opened into violations of transportation safety regulations, according to the national Investigative Committee’s website.
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